Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blooming March.

Our gardens are now a sea of daffodils
And yet more daffodils.
yellow is everywhere, with the odd flash of blue or red.

Blue from Hyacinths, purple and blue from anemone and crocus
and red from the Camellias.
We should have colour from the Daffodils for some time as the doubles and the whites seem to be far behind the yellows.
The frogs have been busy, the spawn has taken up around a quarter of our pond, if just fifty% survive we will be overrun with frogs.
Both of our peach trees are now in full bloom
and have been hand pollinated twice, the apricot tree now has it's leafs. We have had two pickings from the tunnel grown spinach, something I can never have enough of, but our p.s.b (purple sprouting broccoli) is very slow, the shoots are forming but not as quickly as we would have liked.
 The lemon tree produced eleven beautiful fruits for us and is now just coming into flower, I hope we will get as many this year, the flavour and sweetness from a freshly picked lemon is worth waiting for.
The last two weeks have been busy, the time has mainly been taken up because of several hospital appointments for both of us, with more to follow. I am awaiting an overnight stay for sleep study plus a visit to a cardiac specialist. This is due to my  COPD specialist convinced that something other than the COPD is at work. No doubt, in time, the problem will be sorted, maybe it is just old age. I have gone from someone who would not even take an aspirin to a person who now has to take six different types of drugs. I've never been a fan of Doctors, I have always considered them as legalised drug pushers, and certainly the drugs I'm on don't seem to be helping, it all seems very hit and miss.
We did manage to fit in a visit to friends in Mayo, taking a detour we came across a lovely river in full spate,
we did have quite a bit of rain in the first few days of March, I imagine this river is normally a gentle flowing stream.
The weather is variable at the moment but certainly  spring like, with new plants awaking from their winter slumber. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Spring has sprung.

Lots of signs that winter has ended and spring is here,
in the countryside hazel catkins adorn the trees, it looks lovely. Early flowers are in bloom, and birds are gathering nesting materials.
and winter aconites are in flowers
as are the dwarf daffodils,
  there's even some of the large daffodils flowering
single white.

double white
double purple.
and we have masses of hellebores flowering,

and anemones.
 The apricot tree that I had worried might not take having moved it at the wrong time of year has suffered no set back and has a mass of flowers, all that we can do now is hope for lots of fruits, these flowers will have to be hand pollinated, it's too early for bees and other pollinating insects to do the job for us.
The first seeds have been planted,
I invested in a new set of deep root trainers, these modules are great for seeds and allows transplanting without any root disturbance. We have had some hard frosts over the last month and the broad beans in the tunnel looked sorry for themselves for a while but they have picked up again and are looking fine. The first of the rhubarb has been picked, we will have the first of the feast this evening.
This evening a large frog was spotted, heading for the pond, so we should have frog spawn in the next few days. Yes, spring is just about here.
I had a sudden urge last week to make a Bakewell tart using some of our own frozen raspberries, we had some lovely freshly  ground almonds, I had forgotten how delicious a proper Bakewell tart is. Something to make again soon.
could almost be an Irish summers day, grey and drizzly.
We took a trip to the coast, just to have a change of scenery, not to collect seaweed,
we stopped off at a well known pub right on the edge of the beach, hoping to have a nice sandwich and a coffee, unfortunately the kitchen is under modernisation, so no food, but we still managed to get a decent cup of coffee.
I loved the various bar notices ,
three of them made me laugh,
I'm not sure how their tourist customers would take them though, a couple are a little insulting .
Traveling over the Ox mountains I spotted a great house sign, I am guessing that the people who live there have cats.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Never ending circle.

It's now time to start planning this years garden. We started by being ruthless when sorting out our seed store, some of the seeds had travelled to Spain with us and back again, I'm not too sure how many packets of partly used seeds we dumped, but it was a lot. Once that job was done we then drew up the list of what we are growing this year, we only needed to order five packets of seeds to replenish our store, in fact it was only four packets but we also ordered Cantaloupe melon to the order, it's called Minnesota Midget and comes highly recommended by another blogger. We both love melon and it seems impossible to buy any that are worth eating so we will have a go at growing them. The seed company that we have ordered from is 'The Real Seed' company, they are a seed saving company who only use open pollination and no F1 hybrids in sight. Reading up on them they appear to be more ethical than any other seed company we have found, we look forward to growing some of their seeds.
In preparation for the growing season we took a trip to the coast to gather more seaweed,
the gods were kind to us and had left neat mounds for us to collect, we came home with fourteen sacksful of instant fertility plus twenty large mussels for my lunch the next day.
We had timed our visit just right, the tide was on it's way out.
We were a little mystified by a pair of perfectly good trainers sat side by side abandoned. There were no other people on the beach, maybe they walked there themselves, but it made a change from seeing then tied together by the laces and then thrown over power lines.
Things are moving in the garden, if this mild weather continues we will be picking rhubarb at the beginning of February.
The calendula has continued flowering all winter,
and we have a miniature daffodil out in flower,
the first crocus are also flowering but there is no sign of our snowdrops, maybe it's been too mild or too dry for them.
January is also the time that the Seville oranges arrive in the shops, we bought four kg of them and froze three kg of them, today I made the first batch of this years  supply  of marmalade. I say I made it today which is not strictly true as I started my marmalade yesterday. This recipe has never let me down and I always get a good set doing it this way.
 The one kg made seven jars of marmalade, which works out to just seven two cents a pot, not bad for a 100% organic fruit preserve..

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Spot the difference.

Last week we learnt the hard way that buying frozen fish is a waste of money and the plastic bag it comes in probally would have more flavour. We  sent an email to 'Donegal Catch' saying how disappointed we were in their product, needless to say, we received no reply. We can only assume  that they are so used to receiving complaints that they no longer bother to respond. This week we took the trip to our real fish man in Ballina,
Fresh cod versus frozen.
fresh cod was on offer at only twelve euro a kg, plaice at two euro a throw and hake at seventeen euro a kg. We now have replenished our stock of fish , this should last us for the next eight weeks.
Third generation.
Although this fishmonger has an overnight courier service, I still like to see what I'm buying, and it makes a nice trip out. This fish shop has been established for over fifty years and our fishmonger is the third generation of the family to run the business. I wonder how long this shop would have lasted if they didn't respond to customers feedback?
There are a few signs that spring is not too far away, bulbs are well up with flower buds on the daffodils,
one of the pulmonarias  is flowering,
Red hellebore.

White hellebore, I also spot a buttercup that needs removing.
likewise the hellebores,
An early Camellia.
there's even a brave camellia with one flower out, many more to come but way behind the first one.
Things are slowly developing in the new tunnel,
the garlic is well up,
broad beans not making too much headway, they are the same size as a couple of weeks ago.
Tiny cauliflower but they will come on.
Tiny cauliflowers have been planted into one of the beds, they look so small but should soon make headway with a few degrees of warmer weather, and increased daylight. Not that it's been cold this winter, so far it's been the warmest and driest for the past four years, although today it has done it's best to deliver a dusting of snow, as long as it stays just that, a dusting I will be quite happy. However, a few days of really cold weather would have been welcomed to kill off some of the nasty's in the soil, slugs in particular.
The apricot, it's got two chances.
The apricot tree gifted to us from a friend has been planted in the new tunnel, whether it survives or not is in the lap of the gods. It seems that we should have moved it late autumn as apricots are so early flowering the sap will already have risen, we are also a bit concerned that there was not enough root on it, still it has two chances, it lives or it dies.